MANILA, Philippines–Probe reports on alleged selling of government-provided airplane tickets to distressed OFWs.

Thus, asked today by a Filipino migrants’ rights group to President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (PNoy) and the heads of the concerned agencies such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an adjunct agency to the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

John Leonard Monterona, MIGRANTE vice chairperson and regional coordinator in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) called on Malacanang to conduct an investigation as he had received reports that the airplane tickets provided by DoLE-OWWA for distressed OFWs staying at the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) in Amman, Jordan allegedly were being sold to some of the wards, the distressed OFWs, supposed beneficiaries of these free airplane tickets provided by the government.

“Early morning today, I received a personal message sent via MIGRANTE-Middle East Facebook account from a reliable source, who requested anonymity by withholding her name for fear of retaliation, informing me of what she and her fellow OFWs witnessed the selling of government-provided airplane tickets by POLO-OWWA officials to 3 of its wards at the FWRC,” Monterona revealed.

On Tuesday, May 28, Labor secretary Rosalinda Baldoz issued a statement confirming “almost all of the 114 OFWs being sheltered at the Filipino Workers Resource Centers (FWRC) of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Amman, Jordan have already airline tickets for their eventual return to the Philippines, contrary to some reports that the distressed OFWs are being neglected and their repatriation delayed.”
“Embassy and labor officials posted abroad are persons in authority and they are responsible on documenting the mission’s consular services and undertaking. They too, can easily alter the entries of airplane tickets beneficiaries to appear that it were received by the ward OFWs supposed to be free, but per reports we’ve received they are charging the ward OFWs,”Monterona lamented.

Monterona added, “We are still verifying the names of the embassy and labor officials who were seen selling the government-provided air tickets to the distressed OFWs, but this information corroborates what we have previously been receiving from the distressed OFWs staying at the Bahay Kalingas and FWRCs in the Middle East. Even in the PH consulate in Jeddah, some stranded OFWs at the ‘Tent City’ are complaining because they were asked to pay for their airplane tickets if they wanted to be repatriated without delay”

“This recent information validates the previous complaints we’ve received from the distressed OFWs. Thus, we are calling Malacanang to order thorough investigation on this modus operandi by some embassy and labor officials. There should be no cover up on this; corrupt embassy and labor officials must be dismissed from their jobs,” Monterona lamented.

He added PNoy should also lead embassy and labor officials abroad to the ‘straight path’, a catchphrase popularized by the president himself.